Everything “My Life With The Walter Boys” Got Wrong

Spoilers below for My Life With The Walter Boys!

The new teen drama “My Life With The Walter Boys” follows main character, Jackie Howard, as she moves in with the Walter family when a tragic accident changes her life. As Jackie navigates her new life, she’s met with the challenge of fitting in, battling grief, and most prominently: which Walter boy she will choose. While the Netflix original was entertaining, there were lots of points throughout watching that I found the show didn’t quite hit the nail on the head.

During this fast paced drama, I quickly became aware of the lack of build up and how it made it hard to care about and sympathize with Jackie right away. Without much time to get to know her, or her family she inevitably loses, the viewer is thrown right into the plot of this show, lacking substance for our main character. By rushing this build up, the writers end up rushing her grief as well. While there is still a sense of sympathy for Jackie and the tragedy she experiences, there isn’t much of a plot when it comes to her grief and how she handles it. It’s very overshadowed by the love triangle she gets thrown into pretty early on; both of which are discussed in this article.

Nikki Rodriguez and Marc Blucas via Netflix

A Famous Love Triangle

The main draw-in this show has is the famous love triangle trope. A good amount of the season includes a drama filled triangle between Jackie, Cole, and Alex which, while interesting, was not formatted properly for the amount of screen time it got. Much like Jackie’s entrance into the family, the love triangle was thrown at us right from the beginning of episode one. Despite Alex knowing Jackie for less than a week, he was already distraught from seeing her with Cole in the lunchroom. Once again, the writers skipped over the necessary build up.

When love triangles come so quickly, they lack the connection between characters therefore making it hard for the audience to root for either relationship. That being said, for the casual viewer it’s easier to be team Cole because of the amount of growth Jackie and Cole got as opposed to Jackie’s relationship with Alex. The season is filled with angst between Jackie and Cole allowing for a more satisfying reunion when the two characters finally do get together.

Too Many Characters

Issac Arellanes, Myles Perez, Connor Stanhope, Noah LaLonde, and Ashby Gentry via Netflix

While having a big family is the point of the show, I found it hard to care for most of the kids. They didn’t provide enough material for the audience to care for the other siblings that weren’t Cole, Alex, or Will. (Not to mention that most of Will’s screen time was apart from the family so it felt like a completely different character that had nothing to do with the Walters; until the end of the season when he got married at the ranch.) There was lots of potential for Nathan and Danny’s characters that I hope season 2 plays into.

That being said, I want a continued storyline about Nathan’s epilepsy or Danny’s acting career to center their characters as opposed to their relationships with Skylar (and most likely Erin). By having almost all the siblings caught up in relationship problems as their conflicts there becomes an absence of personality and reliability within these characters. Something that needs to happen with shows that include big families is the layout of who these characters are, what they want, and what their values are.

A good example of this is Freeform’s drama The Fosters. The show took on a big family and managed to flesh out each member within one season to let the audience get to know each character beyond their relationships. I will however give credit to My Life With The Walter Boys because it’s a Netflix original, which means they were forced to make this all try to happen in 10 episodes as opposed to television that airs on cable; which allows for 20+ episode seasons.

Cole’s Grief vs Jackie’s Grief

Nikki Rodriguez and Noah LaLonde via Netflix

Favoritism was present in the writers room when laying out each sibling’s personality, likes, dislikes, conflicts, etc. The storyline specifically about Cole’s love for football, and having to let it go, was the start of something that could be very meaningful if expanded upon. Throughout the season, Cole talks about how much football meant to him and how not being able to play anymore had made him feel worthless. This is all reflected in his school work, his relationships, and his self worth. In episode four Cole says he’s broken and in episode nine he tells Alex he feels like a burden.

This story of grief, the writers did a really good job at portraying. There’s a new layer of Cole that the viewer sees before all the other characters get to see as it’s clear Cole has an emotional wall built. I would go as far as to say there was more depth in Cole’s grief from his loss of football then there was in Jackie’s grief from the loss of her family.

I can’t help but wish that there could’ve been the same amount of depth for our main character. While it’s an extremely different tragedy that Jackie goes through, there were still so many missed opportunities to show that grief and how it affected a young girl. There was an attempt at showing her grief in episode 4 when the teapot that her late sister gave her gets shattered, however the writers chose to shift that story from one of grief to one of romance when they chose Cole to be the one to fix the teapot for her.

Subsequently, Jackie confronting Cole about the teapot lead into their first kiss, once again making the teapot a symbol of their relationship. Adding to that, Cole returns the teapot to Jackie with a note that says “Nothing is so broken that it can’t be fixed”, a saying Jackie previously told Cole she got from her mom. By having Cole return the teapot with that note, the writers are alluding to that saying now being about their relationship with one another, as I explained the teapot has become.

The Summer I Turned Country?

Gavin Casalengo, Lola Tung, and Christopher Briney via Prime Video

Social media took no time to point out the similarities between this show and Prime Video’s The Summer I Turned Pretty. While there are undeniable similarities, at the end of the day the love triangle trope has been troubling main characters for years. The only reason people are quick to compare it to The Summer I Turned Pretty is because the love triangle consists of brothers, and because the Prime Video show is recent. Besides, I don’t think there ever won’t be an audience for a genre like this.

I’m looking at this from a critical standpoint. If your only qualifications to like a show are entertainment value then this is a good watch. I was very entertained even if there were things missing to fill out the show’s characters. At the end of the day, shows like this will continue to strive on platforms like Netflix (and Prime Video) because there’s always an audience seeking the fantasy of a love triangle and the drama of a family that is not their own. “Is this show good?” and “Did I enjoy this show?” are two different questions that can have two different answers.

Needless to say, I will be seated for season 2 because there is a lot of potential within this show now that season one took the time to establish who everyone was at the surface level. As someone who really enjoys family dramas, this did hold my attention through every episode as I needed to know what would happen next within this crazy family dynamic. Not to mention the cliffhanger of Jackie going back to New York was enough to get me to come back because at the end of the day it’s human instinct to be curious about cliffhangers… and another family’s drama.

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